DON CIO Speaks at Naval War College's Senior Enlisted Academy Graduation

Published, August 1, 2012

There are few milestones that better mark a time, an accomplishment and the hope for a bright future than a graduation. On July 12, 2012, Terry Halvorsen, Department of the Navy Chief Information Officer, had the honor of speaking at the graduation ceremony of the most recent graduating class of the Senior Enlisted Academy of the Naval War College in Newport, RI. He spoke of the challenges the graduates will face and how the education they received will help to support them in their role as leaders in today's DON.

The leadership of these talented and dedicated graduates will help form the backbone of successful mission accomplishment, with a focus on efficient, effective operations and strategic decision making to help overcome the greatest threat to the nation – our debt.

As ADM Mike Mullen, Chief of Naval Operations, said during a 2005 Senior Enlisted Academy kickoff speech: "When you put on khakis, you are no longer a machinist's mate or fire controlman or culinary specialist… You are a chief, and you are responsible for one thing, and that is leading."

Halvorsen spoke to the 48 graduates comprised of all military branches, representatives from Turkey and Croatia and Naval War College leadership about the vital need to approach business decisions with the same rigor and strategic focus as the DON approaches warfighting decisions. "We are good at conducting war-time operations and making the tough decisions that surround this. However, we are not as strong in making the decisions that surround the business of war. We need to get better at making the financial decisions. The chiefs will need to think about how best to maximize effectiveness and efficiencies within all our operations."

Halvorsen spoke about adding business focused information to the curriculum. He believes the information should be focused on the graduates' responsibility and understanding of the value of finding efficiencies in all operations, and working from an enterprise perspective when it comes to solving operational issues.

"The biggest risk to our national security is our debt. We all need to go out and learn about the business of war and the financial war we face," Halvorsen stated. In today's fiscal environment, the new budget increase is not getting a budget cut. "As a Department, we all need to get better at looking for ways to save money – whether it is big enterprise solutions or the 'couch change.' For instance, reducing printing and cell phone costs… The DON spends $100 million on printing and $100 million on Blackberries and cell phones. Those are big numbers. By reducing each of these, the couch change will add up to significant savings."

The graduates will have a vital role in leading the culture of the DON and their respective organizations in this time of fiscal constraint, where the mindset needs to shift from what do we spend money on, to what do we not spend money on. This focus on executing the mission using the least amount of resources possible will become a core responsibility of the chiefs and DON leadership. Business and operationally focused analytics courses would better prepare them for this role.

The Naval War College has been actively looking at ways to drive information technology efficiency and effectiveness of its operations, and has several unique initiatives already underway. From an infrastructure standpoint, the college is replacing computer terminals with zero client devices in which the end user's computing device has no local storage. A server hosts the operating system and software applications. Some of the benefits of zero client computing include: significantly reduced power usage, lower cost per unit over PCs, reduced vulnerability to malware and increased ease of administration.

The college has also been actively pursuing options to reduce mobile device and communications costs by taking a strategic look at cell phone usage and providing alternatives for those who do not need a dedicated cell phone for daily work. Halvorsen has asked the Naval War College to put together business case analyses for each of these, and several other topics to determine relevance to the greater DON.

Halvorsen asked the same question President Obama posed during the announcement of the Defense Strategic Plan: "How do we restore global leadership with limited resources?" This question will be answered by the collective efforts of DON personnel under the guidance of its leadership. He concluded his speech with a call to action for the graduates: "The enlisted force has always succeeded. They will solve these issues moving ahead. If the chiefs think about this challenge, we will solve the immediate needs and be set up for a future that is more efficient, effective and is smart from the business of war perspective."

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